Dietitian Catherine Saxelby addresses some issues we face from putting on weight to becoming unmotivated during Covid-19 lockdown.
Part of the problem with being at home all the time is that it is tempting to treat the experience like being on holiday. It becomes an excuse to eat more; to eat more of the wrong things; to exercise less; and generally, to become an unmotivated couch potato.
It doesn’t have to be like this!
Here are my tips to address the problems associated with the ‘lockdown’. The first big problem is putting ON weight. The causes?
Eating mindlessly whilst binge-watching a TV series;
comfort eating (and yes there have been so many new and unsettling changes in the past month) and
ready access to food we’ve bought or hoarded.
The solutions? Well there are some really quirky ideas on Social Media to stop you munching, such as wearing a face mask at home to make you realise your hand is going to your mouth AND wearing a swimsuit around the house (not just your expandable tracky pants)! But here are my, more practical ideas:
Don’t sit and watch TV all day. Yes, I know there’s a temptation to binge-watch a whole series on Netflix or Stan but this can’t be a regular occurrence. You’ll go mad, and gain weight from the sedentary nature of watching. If you really must watch TV then hide the remote so you at least have to get up every so often.
Have an exercise routine – either a walk or run early in the morning (with social distancing) or watch an exercise video or recorded session and exercise with family, or do specific exercises yourself using weights or your own body weight as resistance.
Do things with your hands at home – gardening, cleaning (cupboards/windows), knitting, crochet, sewing/cross-stitch, scrap booking, sorting photos into albums, a project that you’ve been putting off.
Have lower-density snacks (like carrot or celery sticks, baby tomatoes, baby cukes) in place of chocolate biscuits and microwave popcorn.
It’s not healthy to overeat. This has nothing to do with ‘health at any size’ – I’m merely being practical as we will all find it tough to lose any weight we’ve gained once this is over.
If you have a FitBit or similar device set it to remind you to get up and walk 250 steps every hour, during the daylight hours. This will help you replace the ‘incidental exercise’ you would normally get walking to the station or going up and down stairs at work.
If you’re working from home then download an app that will remind you to take a break and move every so often. You can load it on your desktop or laptop computer. They’re easy to find just type “take a break” into your app provider and you’ll come up with several. They’re not expensive and will help you to stay healthy.
Staying motivated and content are other issues associated with staying home. Some of the suggestions above will also help with these issues too. Exercising, doing things with your hands, quiz games with your family and taking regular breaks from work all help you to feel more in control and less anxious.
It’s also important to get up and get showered and dressed as though you’re going to work and not sit around in your PJs all day. This is difficult, I know, if you’ve lost your job but there are some things you can do such as enrolling in an online course to gain extra skills so you’re ready to go when this is over.
Finally, I enjoyed this article from the Medical Journal of Australia on coping with isolation and cabin fever. About eating right, the authors – all qualified professionals – conclude “Eat the healthiest food you can get and try to have some diversity in your meals.” They applaud the routines of sleep, diet and exercise plus meditation.